Also known as: Vao; Upiriv; Wala; Rano; Atchin

Malekula is a large island in the north of Vanuatu. A chain of islets along its eastern coast, known locally as the Small Islands, was the subject of the detailed ethnography 'Stone Men of Malekula' by the English anthropogist John Layard. Layard's ethnography focuses primarily on the island of Vao. The 'stone men' of the title refers to the monoliths that were erected as part of the 'Maki' rites, which marked the ascendance of men through the ranks of the local graded society.

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Traditional Culture(1914)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Absent (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 205-239
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 205-239, 210-218
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 205-239, 236-237, 257
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 12-13, 205-239, 216, 236-237, 257
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 12, 218-225, 235

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 235, 630

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 234, 236
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Principal determinant of one's afterlife (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 225, 234
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 36, 212-213
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Layard (1942)
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 205-239, 210-211, 217-218

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 236-237, 633

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 45
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 154-155

Mana

Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 205-683
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 226, 235
Largest religious community Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 290
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 34-35

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 42-44, 473-565
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 473-565, 671
Piercing Absent from culture (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 42-44
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 672-673
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 473
Social Environment +
Population 3000 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24, 745
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24, 53-55
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 11-12
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 11-12
Polygamy Full polygyny (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 227
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 228

Conflict

(No) external warfare Common, at least every five years (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 588, 601-603
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 15
Conflict within community Endemic (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24, 26, 590, 602-603
(No) internal warfare Common, at least every five years (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 26, 53, 590
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. xviii, 53, 601
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24-25
Distance to nearest continent 1822.0 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 28
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Layard (1928), pp. xviii
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 25, 48
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 25, 48
Land-based gathering Absent (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 40-50, 48
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 48
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 48

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 48
Water-based gathering Minor (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 48
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 48

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 15, 48, 253
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24-25

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24-25
'Malakula' (2013)
Island Size (km²) 2023.0 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 24-25, 30
Creevey et al. (2021)
Maximum elevation (meters) 879.0 (Source)
'Malakula' (2013)

Location

Latitude -16.1 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 4, 24
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 167.5 (Source)
Layard (1942), pp. 30
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1914-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 164-167
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 225
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Layard (1936), pp. xviii, xix
Secular History +

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 39
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 226-227

Modern Infrastructure

Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Geismar (2009), pp. 211, 224

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 15
Loss of political autonoomy Medium (Source)
Geismar & Herle (2009), pp. 13, 15, 39

Demographic and Social Changes

Language shift Medium (Source)
Geismar (2005), pp. 205-206
Geismar (2009), pp. 207
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Geismar (2005), pp. 205-206
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Geismar (2005), pp. 198, 200
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Bouma, G. D., Ling, R., & Pratt, D. (Eds.). (2010). Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Churchill, W. (1916). Sissano: Movements of Migration Within and Through Melanesia. Washington, D.C.: The Carnegie Institute of Washington.

Creevey, P. R., Foster, S. & Wendt, A. (2021). American Samoa. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/American-Samoa

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Area Calculator. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Deacon, A. B. (1934). Malekula: A Vanishing People in the New Hebrides. London, England: George Routledge and Sons.

Geismar, H. & Herle, A. (2009). Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork and Photography on Malakula Since 1914. Adelaide, Australia: Crawford House.

Geismar, H. (2005). Footsteps on Malakula: a Report on a Photographic Research Project. Journal of Museum Ethnography, 17, 191-207. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40793780.

Geismar, H. (2009). Stone Men of Malekula on Malakula: An Ethnography of an Ethnography. Ethnos, 74 (2), 199-228. doi: 10.1080/00141840902940468

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Layard, J. (1942). Stone Men of Malekula. London, England: Chatto & Windus.

Layard, J. W. (1928). Degree-taking rites in south west bay, Malekula. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 58, 139-223. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4619530.

Layard, J. W. (1936). Atchin Twenty Years Ago. Geographical Journal, 342-351. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1786338.

Malakula (2013). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Malakula.